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Food & Drink

Bits & Bites: Wharf Rat décor for sale, Slutty Vegan comes home, Mera Kitchen Collective gets a do-over and a ghost kitchen gets shut down

After yet another scary pandemic winter, spring is just around the corner. Restaurants are dusting off their patio tables and chefs are ramping up for ramp season.

Many city residents are counting the weeks until the return of the Baltimore Farmer’s Market & Bazaar on April 3. While we wait, one of the market’s popular stalls is inviting guests to its new restaurant in Midtown-Belvedere.

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Mera Kitchen Collective technically opened in November, but, writes founder Emily Lerman in an email, a combination of omicron and then building issues meant it stayed closed through March. “Not the start that I ever imagined,” Lerman said.

Time for a do-over. This Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m., Mera is hosting what Lerman dubs the “grand re-opening for the grand opening we never had.“ On the menu: locally-brewed beers, spiked lemonade and wine. The address is 1301 N. Calvert St., the former Stang of Siam location.

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Bring the Wharf Rat home

How would you like to own a piece of Wharf Rat history?

Jesse Sandlin, the Sally O’s chef and owner who recently purchased the Fells Point bar, is selling the old Wharf Rat’s contents through an online auction.

Among the goods: topless wooden mermaids from behind the bar, a ship figurehead and a nude bronze sculpture that Sandlin says “weighs an obscene amount.” There’s also a vintage, English-style telephone booth, kitchen equipment and outdoor seats and tables. The auction closes March 21.

As for the restaurant that will take the place of the Wharf Rat, Sandlin wouldn’t disclose much — even the name. She hopes to have it open this summer but acknowledged, “I don’t know if that’s realistic.”

Peter Chang is a James Beard award nominee

Peter Chang, the chef behind Canton’s NiHao and an eponymous restaurant that’s soon to arrive in Columbia, was nominated for a James Beard award in the Outstanding Chef category after being named a semifinalist.

Not among the nominees: Charleston’s Cindy Wolf, who had been a semifinalist in the Outstanding Chef category and Carlos Raba of Clavel Mezcaleria, a semifinalist for Best Chef: Mid Atlantic.

Winners will be announced at the Beard Foundation’s June 13 awards ceremony in Chicago.

Slutty Vegan brings a pop-up to Baltimore. Could it be the start of something serious?

Slutty Vegan, the buzzy plant-based burger business founded by Baltimore native Pinky Cole, is coming to Charm City next week. During the one-day pop-up, Cole will offer entrées like the “One Night Stand,” but she has hinted it could be the prelude to a permanent restaurant.

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“I couldn’t be more excited to finally sluttify my hometown of Baltimore,” Cole said in a release. “Who knows… if we sell out of burgers, we may just have to open a location here!”

With four locations in the Atlanta area, Cole’s business has attracted a cult following, and round-the-block lines, since it opened in 2018, with celebrity fans like Missy Elliott.

Cole’s food truck, aka the “Big Ol’ Slut,” will be in Baltimore Monday as part of a national tour. Check Instagram for the exact location, to be announced at 10 am that day.

Look for menu items like the “Hollywood Hooker” with slut sauce. Every entrée comes with fries coated with their signature seasoning – called, what else? “Slut Dust.”

More progress at Lexington Market, but the opening gets pushed back again

Like many crab cake lovers, I’ve been following the negotiations between Faidley Seafood and Lexington Market.

The future of the iconic seafood stall is looking even more certain with the news this week that the market should receive $5 million in federal funding, meant to help small businesses pay for the ever-increasing cost of building materials.

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The money comes courtesy of the American Rescue Plan, a federal program that provided $641 million to the city of Baltimore in response to the pandemic.

A release from the office of Mayor Brandon Scott said “This allocation will also enable Faidley’s Seafood, a Baltimore institution, to remain in Lexington Market – a huge win for Baltimore City.”

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Seawall developers also announced two additional vendors this week: Hominy Kitchen, a soul food restaurant that is currently at the old Lexington Market, and bubble tea shop Kokee Tea, which has a location at the Annapolis Mall.

The market, originally set to open early this year, and then in late summer, is now scheduled to open this fall, according to Scott’s office.

City officials shut down ghost kitchen in Hamilton

Inspectors with Baltimore’s health department shut down a food trailer located on the 5600 block of Harford Road for violating noise regulations.

According to a tweet from Councilman Ryan Dorsey, who represents the area, the facility was branded with a Wendy’s logo and was causing residents to lose sleep with noise and traffic from delivery drivers.

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The health department website lists the spot as belonging to NBRHD Kitchens/Reef Kitchens, a ghost kitchen company with a rapidly-growing presence in Baltimore. Customers must order the food through delivery apps.

In Hampden, multiple trailers, including a Wendy’s-branded kitchen, have been set up just off 41st Street near the Union Collective, serving labels Milk Bar, Stock-Up Mart, Van Leeuwen and more.

A spokesman for Reef Kitchens did not immediately respond to questions from The Sun.


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